This graphic was sent to me by a reader who asked me to critique it. In looking at it, I don’t know why she sent it to me. I had very strong negative feelings (you’ll know why when you read it), and I sent back an email saying I thought it was “misleading.” Now, where are those damnable blood pressure pills?
Okay, this is the email I sent back:
“In 24 years as a sworn police officer, I have been spit on, punched, kicked, hit with all manner of foreign objects, attacked twice with knives, and shot at half a dozen times. I am a sergeant in a mid-sized Florida police department. I worry about my officers every night we work. A good friend of mine was shot to death on a call thirteen years ago and I found his body with my K9 partner. I know six other officers who have been shot and wounded in the line of duty. I have performed first responder medicine on injured officers more times than I can count.
“Every year over 58,000 officers are assaulted. Roughly 15,000 are injured, as have I been on numerous occasions. My statistics come from here:
“While I am concerned for the rights of citizens each and every shift, I am charged with bringing the men and women under my command home safely early each morning. I do not tolerate illegal or unethical police behavior and will prosecute anyone I find practicing it. This said, I find the graphic misleading in many ways.
“I wish you well in your future endeavors.”
The “statistics” in the graphic were found in the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project. From their summary:
“This is the 2010 National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) Police Misconduct Statistical Report. This report is the result of data captured from January 2010 through December 2010 by the NPMSRP consisting of reports that meet credibility criteria which have been gathered from multiple media sources throughout the United States.”
Well, there’s your problem right there. Around 6,000 media reports were scoured for this less-than-comprehensive work. Enough said.
According to the FBI: “Nationwide, law enforcement made an estimated 13,120,947 arrests (except traffic violations) in 2010.” And these are just the arrests. The FBI 2010 report states that there are 705,009 full time law enforcement officers in the United States, for a population of 291,414,594.
The sheer number of daily encounters between cops and citizens is staggering. In light of this, the number of complaints tallied in the graphic would indicate that we are doing a pretty good job of policing ourselves through effective hiring, training, policy implementation, and internal affairs enforcement.
I hope one day that the persons responsible for this graphic take the opportunity in their peaceful lives to thank those in Law Enforcement and the U.S. Military for the ability to exercise the First Amendment rights in safety and security. I think the magnitude of the sacrifice made each and every day on their behalf is taken for granted.